Saying goodbye to the Indian mascot

Saying goodbye to the Indian mascot

Amili Chavarria

Two Montrose schools are currently in the process of changing mascots after the state of Colorado passed a bill banning Native American mascots, Montrose High School and Centennial Middle School, but a new mascot has yet to be determined.

A few Colorado schools have already made the mascot change, such as Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs who went from the ‘Indians’ to the ‘Hawks’.  Other schools such as Arapahoe High School in Centennial developed an agreement with local tribe elders to be able to keep the mascot as a sign of respect and honor. 

Montrose tried very hard to meet with the tribes in Cortez and come to an agreement where the high school could stay the Indians, but had little success in setting up a meeting possibly because the relationship between Montrose and the tribe has not been cultivated and maintained over the years.

“Our district offices reached out and have been unsuccessful, we don’t have a relationship with the Ute Indians aside from the fact that Montrose is home to the Ute Indian museum,” Montrose High School principal James Barnhill said. 

While Montrose has not maintained a close relationship with tribe elders, many current students and longtime residents have expressed their disappointment in losing the Indians mascot.

“I think the mascot shouldn’t change because it’s been the Indians for so long and it’s part of the school now it’s hard to imagine the high school to have any other mascot that isn’t the Indians, but I’m glad to be a part of the last graduating class with the original mascot,” senior Diana Aguado said. 

Everything in the school that displays an Indian face must be gone by June 1 2022, if not the school may have to pay a $25,000 fine for each additional month after that.

“We have to conform to the law and proceed with the understanding of needing to change these mascots,” public information officer Matt Jenkins said.

A consideration of a mascot that will allow Montrose High School to incorporate the current M and feather may be an option. This is something that Cheyenne Mountain did when changing to the Hawks, they kept the feather that had been a part of their Indians mascot. 

The state of Colorado initially had said that there was going to be funding for schools to use for facility improvements and changes and that it would come from best funding but currently it is undecided if the funding will come from it. 

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this won’t be a cost that Montrose County School District and local tax payers have to take on completely, at the minimum we expect that the state will supplement some costs,” Jenkins said. 

The total cost of both Montrose High School and Centennial Middle School is $900,000 and for the high school alone would be a cost of $600,000. 

“We have to change our scoreboards, middle of the gym floor, the padding around the gyms that say Montrose Indians, anything that has the chief head on it,” Barnhill said.

Jenkins is putting together a plan for public participation after meeting with the highschool principal James Barnhill and Centennial principal Joe Simo where students and the community can be involved in the process.

“On our website we’ll be posting invitations for folks to get involved and engaged,” Jenkins said. 

The mascot change is still currently being worked on a lot but the hope is to have it completely changed by June 1st 2022.